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Just a quick note for dyed-in-the-wool atheists. Hey I know nothing about that, right? Hahahaha, no actually I know everything about it so I also know it's necessary for me to explain the following:

I remember someone recounting a few sexual experiences to me, and in the course of doing so letting slip the term "heavy petting" when talking about what they did with a prospective partner. It's something they'd been taught in their sex education classes; I know because I asked them, "Who the hell says 'heavy petting'?"

I know that people are trying to be neutral when using terms like that. They're trying to avoid terminology which might actually evoke the powerful feelings, experiences, memories, etc. associated with, in the case of "heavy petting", sexual activity. That's fine for sex education class, because no teacher wants to embarrass their teenage students. But nobody, if they're trying to communicate the truth of their sexual experiences, is going to use the term "heavy petting" to describe them, because it doesn't embody the truth of such experiences at all.

It's pretty obvious where I'm going with this: I talk about a lot of heavy things here, and I talk about things that are controversial to the scientifically materialist minded among us. I talk about things for which such people might demand some kind of objective proof, because I use language which implies that I'm not "just imagining" it. Because that's the polite thing to do when recounting experiences of this nature, right? Say it's a matter of imagination and nothing else?

So what other subjective experiences are matters of "imagination"? Feelings? Relationships? Mental disorders? Things that people have put countless hours of research into trying to figure out because our advancement depends on it?

When I talk about things like divinity, G/gods, spirits, demons, and so on, I'm talking about things which have been around since people developed the capacity to experience them. Like so many other subjective phenomena, we haven't lost this ability simply due to the fact that we've become extremely technologically proficient and accumulated stupendous amounts of knowledge about the intricate workings of the physical universe. People experience things in this vein, not out of ignorance, but because it's natural, and it's something that we have to learn how to deal with.

Divinity, in particular, is a concept which I see as extremely important. I think that the majority of people today have an innate sense of divinity, but of late the trend in intellectual circles has been to attach this sense to things other than G/gods. I would love for people to explore, openly and honestly, whether or not this is a sound thing to do. I'm not saying that we should all adopt the G/gods of old, but perhaps we should acknowledge that accompanying this sense of the divine is a sense for the people who embody it, and figure out what to do about that. Even if it means imbuing the characters of modern mythologies, like the Final Fantasy series, with the concept of G/god. I'm encountering more and more people who have done just that sort of thing.

If people were to embrace the trend of moving away from abusive parent gods, and toward these more genuine embodiments of the divine, maybe we could even more rapidly empty the pews of egregiously flawed religious institutions.

I say, unapologetically, that I sense the divine, that I talk to perliminal entities, and that I work in the paradigm that I work in, because that is what I do. That is what people have long done, and rather than doll up such activities with permissible parlance so that they may be acceptable to materialist sensibilities, maybe it's time that people explored them for what they are. Because it's a part of us, and it has always been a part of us. Because, for that reason, it matters.

Date: 2012-10-04 08:31 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] coffeevore
coffeevore: Text written in paint: "You can only see as far as you think". (You can only see as far as you think.)
Yeah... I definitely think a lot of atheists don't have the first clue about what genuinely spiritual people are doing and feeling. And that is because they hear churchy people throwing around words that they really can't relate to. Someone who doesn't really feel Christianity isn't that likely to suddenly grok what it means to "welcome Jesus into your heart"; they're only going to know if they're used to trying to search for comparisons between their own individual experiences and the things that those Christians might be feeling when they say that.

If you're young and being raised in the church and told that these experiences are specific to your religion's god, you're going to assume it's just something you've never felt. In my case, I was hesitant to assume I felt the same thing for anything else because I didn't know what the Christian idea of it was supposed to mean, so I couldn't compare what I felt to it. Translation and censorship didn't help. I felt like I was probably doing the "wrong thing" or choosing for the "wrong reason" when I chose my confirmation name on account of Final Fantasy, even though we weren't told we had to pick a specific name for a specific reason, and I'm sure a lot of people secretly just chose names they liked with no deep significance or anything... still, I thought I might be doing it wrong. Because I think I was worried it would be a mistake to equate what I felt for RPGs to what I was supposed to feel at church-- for one thing, I was so bad at feeling for church that I didn't want to diminish RPGs like that, and for another, I didn't want to be incorrect on something that would make me feel so silly and ridiculous if I later realised I was wrong. I think I just didn't want to plunge into such a drastic assertion unless I was really sure, because I didn't want to make a fool of myself. So I kind of didn't let myself think about it too hard or reach any conclusions. But if I'd had some encouragement that it was okay to perform religion in any way other than what was linked to my church, I think I would have known.

Date: 2012-10-06 11:43 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] coffeevore
coffeevore: Text written in paint: "You can only see as far as you think". (You can only see as far as you think.)
Oh wow, I honestly don't know the first thing about confirmation! So I also don't know how one might choose anything for confirmation related to Final Fantasy... Wikipedia has been no help either. :\

Ah! Well, a confirmation name is just... a name. In denominations that have them, or at least I guess in mine, you pick a name when you're being confirmed, and that's your name in the church. The general idea is that you're supposed to pick the name of a saint that inspires you, although there's not much said about what to pick if you're not inspired by any particular saint, and it's not exactly a hard-and-fast rule. It's supposed to be your spiritual name, and that's what gets put in the church register, rather than (or along with?) your legal name. And.. nobody ever really calls you that, unless you become clergy (that's why so many nuns are named things like Sister Mary Whatever, because they're going by some saint's name rather than/in addition to their legal name), but a lot of people consider it to be/use it as a second middle name, even though it's not legal or anything. I always kind of imagined (although I have no idea if this was dogmatically correct or not) that it was the name God would be using for you, if you were as much in the habit of talking to him via prayer as you were supposed to be. But when it came to choosing a name for who I wanted to symbolically imitate and look up to, instead of picking some name because of some inspiring saint's story or something, I picked the name of a FF character. Not one you'd guess right off the bat, but something less obvious, yet still relevant. (I don't want to post it in public, even though no one can actually trace me by it, because it feels awkward just throwing it out there in front of the whole world; but I can tell you by PM if you want.) It's technically a saint's name, so it counted, but I don't even know much about the official canonized saint-- the real inspiration was, obviously, from a much less official place. ;)

I remember the prospect of doing it wrong, in my church, being closely associated with the prospect of Eternal Damnation... :[ I never did anything in that church that betrayed any hint of how I felt about RPGs for that reason.

*nods* The church I went to wasn't bad at all, actually. I mean... you hear a lot of stuff about how Catholics are really strict, but my experience with them actually wasn't at all. It was far closer to "empty fluffy platitudes about how God will help everything work out great" than "hellfire and brimstone threats", and in those days politics just weren't mentioned much. So it was more like an empty waste of time than it was a source of any real bother. I tend to possibly say this a lot and repeat it a lot, but that's because I never want people to assume that all church experiences (even in very old and conservative-seeming denominations) are bad and scary, because when I was tiny I actually had some bad experiences being taken away from the religious context for my own good and put into a secular one, and in some respect I don't think I've ever completely recovered from the shock of being dumped against my will into a feral, fend-for-yourself secular public atmosphere.

I still had no damn idea whatsoever about this concept of the divine, and how one could truly find it. I don't know what could be done to aid people in finding it. Atheism was no help, obviously, but neither was much of any of the stuff that we were taught, strangely.

Me neither. My parents made me go to Sunday school for a very long time, and despite ostensibly studying all this stuff every week, I wasn't taught the first thing about actual divinity either. Nothing that we studied connected us with it or elucidated what we were looking for-- it was almost like an assumption that if we were there, we already knew what it was, and so nobody had to tell us. What we did cover was just a mix of dry facts about the history or ritual aspects, and clumsy attempts to "outreach" to kids about Teen Issues like Peer Pressure Vs. Integrity, all of which was irrelevant to kids who didn't have the core in place about what ritual was for or what to have integrity about. There wasn't any teaching that showed us how to experience, identify, or appreciate divinity; we were just expected and assumed to find that on our own. I think everyone just sort of assumed that you'd know it when you found it-- which could have been true if we didn't live in a society that tied it so strongly to certain preconceptions about where it belonges and what it's supposed to look like. But we do, and because of that, when people see it, they're really reticent to trust that that's actually what it is. For so many reasons, in so many ways.


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